TEXT & PICTURES: Stefano Romano
The 52nd edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair took place from March 30 to April 2. More than 57,000 between illustrators, authors, exhibitors, operators, teachers and visitors from 98 countries around the world participated in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and the Weekend of Young Readers 2015. The only Children’s Book Fair, reserved for sector operators, has been visited by over 35,000 people, an increase of over 15% on 2014 and a + 10% of foreign visitors, confirming the global leadership of the Book Fair Bologna Children, with over 1,200 exhibitors from 77 countries around the world.
The delegation of Malaysia, represented by KOTA BUKU, brought together about ten participants between publishers and illustrators. These are the participants of the Malaysian delegation this year, and their projects. Starting from Tuan Hasri Hasan, Head of Delegation KOTA BUKU
KOTA BUKU – Tuan Hasri Hasan. Hasri Hasan has been in publishing for more than 25 years and has been with the biggest publisher in the world, Pearson for 14 years. He joined Kota Bukuseven months ago to head the most important department within the organization, the Intellectual Property, Digital, Research and Consultancy department. Tuan Hasri says: “This year Kota Buku will participate in nine major book fairs all around the world to represent Malaysian titles to the world platform. One of the fairs is Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2015 with the aims to promote Kota Buku as the major rights agency in Malaysia and also to promote Kota Buku’s biggest event which is the Kuala Lumpur Trade and Copyright Centre (KLTCC).
Together with Kota Buku there are few others prominent children publishers from Malaysia took part together Kota Buku in promoting children Malaysian rights to the world. Kota Buku managed to achieve its initial aims when some of potential titles has been included into the favorite list of buyer publishers from other countries and the KLTCC event for 2016 edition has gain lot of interest from European publishers as the biggest copyright fair in Asia.” About the status of digital book in Malaysia he says: “Kota Buku has been given the mandate to establish a wide range of digital repository of Malaysian books under Malaysiana collection.
These digital copies will include all books, periodicals, journals, academic papers, theses, annual reports and any other previously published printed materials in Malaysia. The Malaysian repository will sit in a Digital Township which Kota Buku build as the future initiative of digital society. The digital township will includes E-bookstores, E-library, E-learning, Book Club, Book Almanac and the place of birth of the future of books such as augmented reality book, interactive contents, audio-book and many more. Kota Buku has targeted that the digital township will have a solid repository in there years time from now.”
About the status of children’s literature in Malaysia now and in the next year Kota Buku has clear ideas: “Malaysia has a very high potential and many talents in children’s book sector. This has been supported in many events specially catered towards the development of children content. Beside than a dedicated workshop to develop young authors from primary school through ‘Penulis Tunas Super’, Malaysia also has children writers festival with the collaboration of MBBY and the biggest festival of kids literature (Festival Sastera Kanak-kanak – FSK) organized by Kota Buku every year with the aim to nurture children content creators and the new potential of illustrators for children. Kota Buku has a working collaboration with Nami Island towards its Nambook Festival where Malaysia will actively participate in developing more high quality contents through exchange of knowledge and expertise from both countries. Kota Buku’s inspiration for next year that Malaysia be able to win few children book awards and get the international recognition from the circle of the international publishing scene”. In Frankfurt Book Fair, Kota Buku will participate as the leading rights agency from Malaysia and represent Malaysian titles strongly with potential titles in view of launching multiple language edition during the fair. www.kotabuku.my
KARANGKRAF – Puan Sri Diah. Radhiah Shaharuddin,popular known as Puan Sri Diah, the General Manager of Grup Buku Karangkraf. The Karangkraf Media Group is a leading publisher in Malaysia. The company was established in 1979 by Dato Hussamuddin and had grown into a major organization employing 1500 people. Karangkraf is the biggest publisher in Malaysia and also the biggest printer in Malaysia with 29 magazines, 8 state newspapers and 3 bookstores. She says: “Bologna Children’s Book Fair gives a positive input to Grup Buku Karangkraf products. We brought some very popular children books in Malaysia. For example the series “I Love Allah” and Project “100 Children’s Picture Books”.
Thank God we have collaborated with the publishers of Turkey and two publishers from Arabic countries. We are now in the process to follow up the status of discussions in Bologna. Hopefully this business running smoothly and beneficial to all parties.” For the future of the Company she says: “For years to come we will continue to focus on the Islamic book for children and general genre. There are many other series that religion can be emphasized. This topic is awaited by the readers worldwide.” And about the new digital books and the Fir of Frankfurt Puan sri says: “Grup Buku Karangkraf also been moved to the digital world and sells books online (e-publishing). This project is conducted online by Karangkraf Mall. At the Frankfurt Book Fair, we will focus on children’s book, hobby and Islamic books series. We will also focus on digital products and sales online pdf and epublishing.” www.karangkraf.com
ITBM – Tuan Sakri Abdullah. Tuan Sakri is the the General Manager of ITBM (Institut Terjemahan & Buku Malaysia). Start as executive on 1985, he is now the General Manger of this big private company under the Government of Malaysia. The owner is the Ministry of Finance of Malaysia. They publish all kind of books, with more than 2000 titles in their library, just almost 395 titles in last three years. The aim of ITBM for publishing is double: local novel and youngest writers. They publish in all kind of languages, and the local writers are translated in other languages, for example in French language they have more than ten titles, or a collaboration with the Goethe Institute for Germany.
This year in the Bologna Fair ITBM has formed an important partnership with Italy: for the next year five tales of Malaysian authors and five tales of Italian authors will be collected in an anthology translated into Italian and Malay to sell in their respective countries. The youngest literature is the biggest market now in Malaysia: to be focus on this means to survive for a Company. The constant thought of Tuan Sakri, is how to make a young a reader. “All our work must be targeted to attract the interest of the kids. We have to think like a child thinks. We need to understand what appeals to kids, many texts for children, here, are boring, full of text, it needs something more interesting: more drawings, less text. It must be a book that a child reads on the back of the car when he comes back from school. If he can read it in the car then it means that the book is perfect for a child!” Also on the editorial line of the Company Tuan Hasri has clear ideas: “The Company has to give guidelines to the writers about what to write, so they will always be in accordance with what should be published.” In Bologna’s Fair the book most supported is the latest “Sang Kancil races the Snail”, retold by Rahimidin Zahari and illustrated by Jaafar Taib. www.itbm.com.my
KUALITI BOOKS SDN BHD – Tuan Raymond Yeo. Managing Director of Kualiti Books, Tuan Raymond comes to fair strong of his big library. On this 2014 the best seller was “Tell me why”, translated in nine languages: Bahasa Malay, English, Chinese, Tamil, Jawi, Visayan, Vietnamese, Thai and French. A series of 24 titles to 300 words in history. In this Fair, both Spain and Portugal are interested in this series, with which is possible to learn scientific concepts and languages. The intention of Kualiti Books is to conquer the market of Eastern Europe, therefore, it will be present at the Book Fair in Slovenia in November, rather than at the big Frankfurt Fair, because in this area they are more interested to learn English. The new project of Kualiti Books are the Buku Agama, as the new “Kamus Pertama untuk Genius Soleh” in four languages. www.kualitibooks.com
SHAKESPOT SDN BHD – Tuan Sheikh Faisal. Tuan Sheikh Faisal is the founder and owner of the Shakespot Company Sdn Bhd from 2009, inherited the work of his father with whom he worked in his company Kreatif kembara Sdn Bhd from 2000. Graduated in 1996 in the USA in Engineering, Tuan Sheikh is also a writer of books, which publishes and sells online from 2005. So far he has written six books, “educational books”, sold in thirty countries. In the 2010 he began to publish books by other Malaysian writers (recipe books, children books…), more than thirty titles in English. The new project is “7 Doors”, the first book of the project “Storymakers League” (www.storymakersleague.com): this is one novel written by a group of twenty five young children.
This young team was selected to be the first team and to follow a creative writing course aimed at the production of this first story. This team, directed by Sheikh Faisal as Supreme Leader and Irwan Abdul Rahman with Ahmad Azrai Ab. Halim, met once a month for ten months; the leaders give them the guide line of the novel and at first every child write the own first chapter, then the leaders chose the best one. This procedure continues, step by step, until the conclusion of the book. The youngest child of the team is the son of Tuan Sheikh, Sheikh Azri Rayyan of only ten years old. Also the Prime Minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak attended at the presentation of this project last year. Now it’s open the online contest in the website of Storymakers to select the new team of thirty young writers for the second book. The aim of SHAKESPOT in this Fair of Bologna is to sell the Storymakers project as franchising to other countries. Until now Spain and Oman seemed interested. www.shakespot.net
GEMPAK STARZ – May Wong. May Wong start to work thirteen years ago in the advertising area until to become Business Development Manager of the GMPK Starz, based in Kuala Lumpur. This Company publish only comics for teen-agers (in three languages) and light novels (only in Chinese): the range of age for readers goes from primary school (7-12 years old) until teen-agers. May says: “We have our own fifty house illustrators. For the novels and general tales we have ten own writers for Chinese people (in Malaysia the Chinese are the 20\30% of all population).” They chose to publish manga because in Malaysia there are a lot of fans of this kind of comic. They already reached a big part of Asia, like China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, with titles in three languages; now they want try to reach also the European market here in the Bologna’s Fair. The comics of GMPK are not usual manga, but educational comics: they give scientific, social science information. For example, one of their best-seller is “Dinosaur Kingdom Series” a story by Recode & Albbie, illustrated by AIR Team, to learn about the prehistorically era. Between every chapter there are some sections dedicated to the scientific information on the prehistorically age, so the children can enjoy the story and also to learn about science. Until now the series has twelve chapters. www.gempakstarz.com
PRIMA ASIANA SDN BHD – Tuan Azrani Bin Hj Abdul Aziz. Tuan Azrani is the owner of this Company inherited from his father in 2004 after the death of him, who founded it in 1998, based in Pulau Pinang. It’s a family-run company in which they work seven people. They print books taken from old manuscripts and translated in Jawi (the Malaysian language written in Arabic) for young children, to teach them Iqro and Malaysian language. Until now they have fifty activity books, and the new project, supported now in the Fair, titled “Siri Mukjizat” five stories taken from Al-Quran. The most important thing for Tuan Azrani is the education, most of all the Islamic education for children. He said that in Malaysia is easy to find many books for children, but not so easy to find good products with high moral content. All is work is dedicated to his father.
PELANGI – Adrian Koh. Adrian Koh is the Country Sales & operation Manager of PELANGI, a big Editor and Printing Group founded in Malaysia in 1979, and now based in many countries, like Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and UK; Adrian work in the office of PELANGI in Thailand from 2007. The Company has more than two thousands titles in Malaysia, with own writers and illustrators, as Ace, here in Bologna to present his new book “Hmm, I wonder”, he is a young writer at his fourth book, after start to write in Bangkok two years ago. This is the first time of PELANGI in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, but last year they was at the Book’s Fair in Frankfurt and they will go again in Frankfurt at October with the Indonesian delegation. In Bologna they support the new books: “Rainbow Girl” and “Rainbow Boy” by Ota Umme and illustrated by Piper Peace in English. www.pelangithai.com
At last, about the digital books Kota Buku hosted two Companies:
MMSC (Multi Media Synergy Corporation) SDN BHD – Siti Fatihah & Siti Fatimah Abdul Rahman. The two twins sisters are the Executive Director for Business Development and Senior Manager of this Company founded on 1997 in Kuala Lumpur. The focus of this Company is on E-Learning for children from Kindergarten until High School. The project led to the Fair is the new “BUKUU (Bukan Buku Biasa)”, started on March 2014: it’s an interactive story book only in Malaysian language with 200 titles covering a range of age from three years old until twelve years old. For this project work almost thirty writers and twenty five illustrators; the choice to be only in Malaysian language because as Puan Siti Fatihah says “There are many e-books in English but interactive stories in Malaysian language still not more here”. To buy this application is possible to use App Store for Mac and Google Play for Androids. “The aim for this year is to put the whole 200 titles on one tablet, to reach the schools and libraries. In Malaysia already exist interactive multimedia teaching, because there are almost seven subjects for children of seven years old, so their school bags are really heavy. So, this tablet could be also a big help for the young students.”
DIDI ANIMATION – Tuan Sinan Ismail. Tuan Sinan Ismail is the Co\Founder of DiDi Animation. He began to work in a Company for 3D in 2008, based in the Cyberjaya (the Malaysian Silicon Valley) after graduation in Informatics. On the wave of his work in the animation industrial, Tuan Sinan Ismail co-founded the DiDi & Friends in 2012. The aim of this Company is to make the children happy, so they decide to work in the animation for children, and their idea was to chose famous English children songs to translate in Malaysian language and also other traditional songs to translate.
Everything start with one video posted on YouTube in 2014, this video reaches 2.1 million visualization. Now the channel on You tube has already twenty six songs. He says: “We want create a bridge to share Thai songs in Indonesia, and Indonesian songs in Malaysia, and the same with other countries. Because until now there are only English songs in the world, but every country has its own heritage of traditional songs, and we want bring this heritage around the all world.” The range of age goes from 0 to six years old. About the name DiDi Tuan Sinan explain: “DiDi means Digital Durian because Durian is the traditional fruit of Malaysian culture, and we call it the King of Fruits, and we want be the King of the animation in the world!” Their aim is to have, for the end of this year, for every song its own activity book: so, for example, for the song “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” his additional story and activity book to learn about Astrology, for “The Colorful Parrot” an activity book about parrot. He is in this Fair to try to sell the rights of this song to make a packaging DVD of songs.
With Kota Buku was hosted also PTS MEDIA GROUP with Tuan Arief Hakim Sani